ACES offers intriguing look at Baja
ASPEN Aspenites who never look beyond the surf breaks or the scenery off the tip their sea kayaks during a pilgrimage to Baja might want to show up at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies Tuesday to find out what they’re missing.Author Bruce Berger, who splits his time between Aspen and La Paz on Mexico’s Baja peninsula, and photographer Miguel Angel de la Cueva, will present the images and narrative from their joint project, “Oasis of Stone: Visions of Baja California Sur” – a coffee-table book that boasts Berger’s descriptions of the Baja’s unique geology, flora and fauna, and how they are intertwined, accompanied by Angel de la Cueva’s stunning photography.
The book begins with a dissertation on plate tectonics – the shifting of the Earth’s crust that created Baja California Sur, according to experts on such matters – and could spell its eventual demise. “Time,” writes Berger, “working on the geologic scale, will eventually convert it from a peninsula into an island.”Berger, author of “The Complete Half Aspenite” and “Almost an Island” (his chronicle of 30 years of experience in Baja), among other works, gives readers a feel for the landscape, as if the photos don’t say it all. Of the Baja’s Sierra de San Francisco mountain range, he offers: “It is a desert in the sky, an overworld of igneous chunks one crosses like an insect traversing instant coffee.”
Plants and animals – some unique to the peninsula (a rattleless rattlesnake, for one) – all exist, and adapt, in a harsh, mostly desert environment.”The eye is satisfied even as the mind knows that the gardener is drought,” Berger writes.
Accompanied by photographs of stone-age art found in the Baja’s canyons, Berger also addresses “The Newcomer” in an essay focusing on human impacts and development pressure in a place where battle scars run deep: “The desert must wait – centuries if necessary – to heal from its wounds.”The talk and slide show at ACES, from 5:30-7 p.m., is free. It will be followed by open discussion, refreshments and a book signing. “Oasis in Stone” is available at Explore Booksellers in Aspen and Town Center Books in Basalt ($49.95, according to publisher Sunbelt Publications).The book is an initiative of Planeta Peninsula, founded by Angel de la Cueva to advance the protection of the Baja’s natural habitats and cultural traditions.
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